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'A cricket academy or nothing at all'

At a time, when a new Delhi stadium is making headlines, there's no consensus within the BCCI itself, writes C Shekhar Luthra.

india Updated: Jul 24, 2006 11:17 IST

“What is all this fuss over this so-called new stadium in the Capital?” This strange but interesting remark came from a senior official of the BCCI itself on Friday.

At a time, when this new BCCI stadium-- which will reportedly host the World Cup final in 2011-- is making headlines all over the city, there is no consensus within the Board itself about the stadium itself.

Whether it will be a full-fledged stadium or an extension of a Board academy, what happens to the role of the modern, revamped Kotla etc.

“How can a single man (the reference obviously being to an influential BCCI vice-president) dictate terms on such a critical issue?” asked this official. “In any case, the Ferozeshah Kotla is nearing completion and there are so many other states where the infrastructure is not upto the mark. So, we (the BCCI) should spend money there rather than on building a wholly unnecessary structure in Delhi,” he added.

It is also reliably learnt that during a recent BCCI Working Committee meeting, Board president Sharad Powar refused to get into a discussion on the stadium, saying, “The matter will only be discussed after getting a report from the appointed committee”.

This incidentally, was seen as a hint to (and censure of) certain desperate officials reportedly trying to create a parallel body within the Delhi & District Cricket Association to take over the reigns of Delhi cricket.

However, no one from the DDCA or the BCCI is willing to come on record on the matter but most people spoken to tell a similar story.

“First, how can someone believe that the committee formed to look into the matter will agree to such a deal (the building of a new stadium) especially with DDCA president and former Union minister Arun Jaitley being part of it?” asked a senior DDCA executive member.

The reasoning is valid. A few years ago, the Delhi Development Authority was paid Rs 25 lakh for the allotment of land for the construction of a cricket stadium cum academy.

Even then, Jaitley was given an assurance by the then BCCI regime that a full-fledged cricket academy, along the lines of the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore, would be set up in the Capital.

But what suddenly prompted the new BCCI regime to change its stance on the issue and insist that this would be a stadium that will compete with the Kotla instead of an academy venture is hardly secret.

The money and power stakes involved will be massive. “Being the national capital, Delhi has always been in line to host prestigious matches.

There are a few individuals in the Board who wants to take control of the entire revenue by selling in-stadia rights afresh,” said an official. The Kotla incidentally, has most of the stadium rights sold on a long-term basis to corporate majors.

So, what next? “First of all, the venue for the 2011 World Cup final will only be decided in the 2010. Before that, all speculation has no meaning whatsoever,” said a top DDCA official.

“Moreover, all the top BCCI officials, barring one, have assured us of their full support on the issue. The new stadium will only be a cricket academy or nothing,” he added.

Interestingly, the "one official", who has been campaigning for a new stadium by issuing statements in the media, recently called up Jaitley to clarify that the "media reports have misquoted him completely". What next now?